Zediva lawsuit puts new twist on an old debate.
Arguments over DRM and copyright infringement have been going on ever since George Atkinson first set up shop in California, renting movies on Beta and VHS. As owners of a video store, we understand that at some point, illegal and legal downloading, as well as video-on-demand, will usurp our business for good. But in the meantime, it’s always entertaining to watch the companies fight over entertainment dollars. Honestly, the law is so cryptic that I gave up trying to understand its nuances long ago.
However, I know enough about the issues that recent news about upstart company Zediva lawyering up to fight the MPAA over their rights to rent movies over the internet caught my interest. In a nutshell, Zediva rents the movie to you by putting a physical copy in a DVD player, then streaming it in real time to you over the internet. It requires a lot of hardware and some pretty sophisticated servers, but they claim that it falls within their rights under the law. Their argument is that what they are doing is the same as what a video store would do. They buy a retail copy of the movie, and play it on a DVD player. No pirating or copying is involved. If they have 10 copies of a movie, then only 10 can be streamed at once. The MPAA doesn’t see it that way, and is bracing to bury the nascent company.